Weldon, Lawrence

Born: 1829-08-09 Zanesville, Ohio

Died: 1905-04-10 Washington, DC

Lawrence Weldon was a teacher, clerk, attorney, school superintendent, state representative, and federal district attorney. He grew up largely in Madison County, Ohio, attended public schools, London Academy in Ohio, then Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio. He taught school for a time, then studied law with Richard A. Harrison while working as a clerk in Columbus, Ohio. In 1854, he gained admittance to the bar, relocated to Illinois, and began practicing law in Clinton, Illinois. In December 1854, he married Mary Jane Howard, with whom he eventually had at least two children. Between 1854 and 1860, he traveled the Eighth Judicial Circuit often with Abraham Lincoln, and the two became close friends. Weldon named his first son after Lincoln. Weldon also served as school superintendent for DeWitt County from 1855 to 1859, then as the county's legal advisor beginning in 1859. By 1860, he owned $2,500 in real estate and another $2,000 in personal property. During the 1860 Federal Election, he served as a presidential elector, casting his ballot for Lincoln. Weldon also won election to the Illinois General Assembly that year. He resigned his seat in 1861, when President Lincoln appointed him U.S. district attorney for the Southern District of Illinois. Weldon served in this position until after the Civil War. The village of Weldon, Illinois was named in his honor.

Edward F. Dunne, Illinois: The Heart of the Nation (Chicago: Lewis, 1933), 5:466; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Madison County, OH, 175; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Clinton, DeWitt County, IL, 100; Albert A. Woldman, Lawyer Lincoln (New York: Carroll and Graf, 1936), 106-7; History of De Witt County Illinois (Chicago: Pioneer, 1910), 1:126, 136, 411; Marion T. Bennett, The United States Court of Claims, A History: The Judges, 1855-1976 (Washington, DC: n.p., 1976), 77; Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, eds., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Piatt County, ed. by Francis M. Shonkwiler (Chicago: Munsell, 1917), 2:582; The Daily Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL) 11 April 1905, 6:4.